IN THE YEAR OF NO MOTHER
my landlady brought me flowers. She called
on Mother's Day, left a message, used her key.
I returned to find the whole hothouse
reclining ostentatiously in my kitchen sink:
scentless roses, cloying
lilies—the kind people
always send to funerals
even when you ask them
I had thought this year I would escape
at last the inappropriate profusion
arriving on schedule: my mother's
long-stemmed guilt slowly drying
to perfection on the mantel.
I once left two dozen moondance roses waterless
for weeks, marveled at how not a single one
had bloomed: just stooped, bowed,
and blushed at my indifference.
My mother despaired my lack of crystal
but she is gone and silent
and I do not own a vase
so I dump the overwrought bouquet
into the largest vessel I can find:
the jar from my blender, perfect
for this day that symbolizes
everything I never did or never
had, the day my landlady
brought me flowers, the day
I rubbed my aching foot and found
my mother's bunion there.
Kathryn Paul has lived in Seattle longer than she has lived anywhere else. She writes marketing materials to pay the rent and writes poems to survive. She writes on the bus, on the backs of envelopes, and at the kitchen table. Her work has appeared or will shortly appear in The Fem, Words Dance, Snapdragon, 4Culture's Poetry on Buses, and in the LiTFUSE@10 Anthology (due out in September 2016).